In a new in-depth interview with the New York Times, Xbox Executive Vice President Phil Spencer was asked about the connection between gaming and the polarization of American politics. Which Spencer said Xbox is “not a free language platform” and is primarily designed for games and entertainment.
Spencer discussed the idea of political and social radicalization with the New York Times on Kara Swisher’s Sway podcast. During the multi-topic chat, which mainly focused on the emergence of the “Metaverse” concept, Swisher brought up former chief strategist of the Trump administration and Breitbart founder Steve Bannon, who spoke about the use of Gamergate as a political army .
“We see all the positives and negatives of the human condition. We have people who propose to each other and get married on Xbox Live,” says Spencer of Xbox Live. “We also have conversations about politics and other things that happen. One of the things we said about our social network is that we are not a platform for free expression. We are a platform for interactive entertainment and video games. And we are “We are not there to allow all kinds of social discourse on our platform. We don’t exist for that. “
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“We’re not there to have conversations on our platform,” says Spencer, and more than that, Xbox Live just isn’t designed for that kind of politicization. “It’s very difficult to come to Xbox Live and say, okay, I want to start a political party on the platform.”
“You could kind of twist the tools and try to get there, but it’s just not set up for general conversation or the community,” says Spencer, but “It’s really set up for the interactive entertainment community and the games that are on our running And so we invest. “
In 2017 Bannon specifically quoted Gamergate, a harassment campaign against women and progressive figures in the video game industry, said, “You can activate this army. You come through Gamergate or whatever and then get directed to politics and Trump.”
Pointing to social media companies like Facebook and Twitter, fueled by ad revenue and other opaque monetization models that are considered poorly moderated platforms for hate speech and other forms of harassment, Swisher asked Spencer if he thought game companies were more effective in moderating their communities .
“I think we all still have a long way to go. You could tell me that’s a lame answer. That’s fine, “said Spencer.
Spencer later added that he loves the modern video game business model for its “transparency”. Put simply, when a customer likes what Xbox or other video game studio is doing, they’ll buy the product, continue subscribing, or invest in some other aspect of the platform.
“It’s very different when I have a passive business model that my client may not even understand,” said Spencer. “And I think some [of] the purely ad-supported platforms out there get stuck in this model. Because some of the most tumultuous topics they can post are the things that get the most clicks.
It’s a relatively firm political statement for the boss of a multi-billion dollar giant in the video game industry. Spencer before commented on allegations of harassment and sexual discrimination at Activision-Blizzard, Creators of World of Warcraft, Diablo and Overwatch, and said Xbox evaluates “all aspects” of their relationship with the studio.
The full podcast is well worth a listen as Spencer addresses Activision as well as gaming regulations and Netflix’s entry into the gaming industry.
Joseph Knoop is a writer / producer for IGN.